Don't Boycott Bangladesh

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Don't Boycott Bangladesh

#1  Postby Loren Michael » May 05, 2013 11:21 am

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall ... angladesh/

...there are always those who like to restrict trade (often enough, those who manufacture the same items within the EU) who will happily take any opportunity to limit the competition they face. And that’s what the political driver is here. Within EU manufacturers willingly arguing their own interests, using the disaster as the hook to hang the tale on.

As Tim Harford at the FT argues, this is just the wrong way to go about things:


If the EU does impose some sort of sanction on the country, the human cost is likely to be far higher than that of Rana Plaza. Bangladesh has been a development success story; poverty is high but falling fast. Literacy and life expectancy are improving. That appalling under-five mortality rate of 4.6 per cent used to be far worse – 20 years ago, it was 12 per cent. When we see the pictures of the Rana Plaza wreckage, it’s easy to imagine a backdrop of stagnation, complacency and despair in which nothing ever changes, no matter how awful the tragedy. But the true context is a country making rapid improvements in nutrition, health, education and women’s employment. If the EU’s threat galvanises improvements in wages, working conditions and building standards – all of which Bangladesh can afford – then good. But if the threat were to be carried out, that would be a disaster, albeit one that will not be televised.
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Re: Don't Boycott Bangladesh

#2  Postby UtilityMonster » May 07, 2013 6:59 pm

If I were to boycott them, it would be over this

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22423815


Tens of thousands of Islamists had gathered in the city to call for stronger Islamic policies.

Chanting "Allahu Akbar!" ("God is greatest!") and "One point! One demand! Atheists must be hanged", the activists marched down at least six main roads as they headed for Motijheel, AFP news agency reported


It would almost certainly be counterproductive, but just wow.
The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?"
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Re: Don't Boycott Bangladesh

#3  Postby Loren Michael » May 08, 2013 2:48 am

Boycott businesses, not societies... and even then, people should probably be more cautious about what exactly their boycott entails.
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Re: Don't Boycott Bangladesh

#4  Postby Jakov » May 08, 2013 11:05 pm

The desire to boycott is totally understandable. Working class people in the west see the suffering of Bangladeshi workers and want to do something to help.

But in the market it's one-dollar-one-vote. In a class struggle situation of rich-vs-poor seen today, boycotts are very ineffective because the rich have the majority of the votes. A billionaire can outvote many millions of poor people.

Also more often than not it moralises those who cannot afford to make these kinds of consumer choices (local bookshops, ethical eating, McDonalds versus local businesses etc) as bad, while failing to recognise, for example, stagnant wages in the west.

Boycotts do nothing to challenge the implied market-consumer relationship. By not considering capitalism as a system it fails to understand why factories are built cheaply. It is not simply because they are evil. It is because the system requires as much in order for companies to operate especially as markets become saturated and profits begin to fall.

See the example of Starbucks which felt a boycott due to tax avoidance. They might throw a bit more tax in, but it needs to drive down its costs elsewhere, hence it begins discipling labour to cut costs. This is because in the UK Starbucks is simply not profitable. It must reduce its costs and will do this by any means - it is the way the capitalist market is.

Rather than all this battles must and should occur not at the point of exchange but at the point of production. A good idea I've heard is something the Mining Division of the Australian CFMEU used to do until recently. If there was a fatality in a mine on a particular coal field, all workers on the coal field walked out and didn't go back until after the funeral, usually three days later. The effect was to make all coal mining companies anxious to improve the safety of the industry as a whole, since bosses were punished financially for the crimes of other bosses. In these circumstances, the coal mining bosses became great advocates of the state stepping in to improve health and safety practices of other bosses and were keen to prevent "cowboys" at other companies resulting in production ceasing at their own.

The Australian miners as a class recognised that they have nothing in common with the mine-owner class. The entire mine-owning class would be punished in the name of injury-to-one-is-an-injury-to-all. It was effective because the labourers had power beyond their pittency salary, they knew that the bosses couldn't make money without their labour. The miners acted as members of the working class, not as consumer-citizens.

We as protelatians can't win with boycotts or anything within the system because we've poor. Boycotts are only good for alleviating guilt. We can win by working together against the system that organises time, work, production and ultimately our lives.
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Re: Don't Boycott Bangladesh

#5  Postby Macdoc » May 09, 2013 12:57 am

Nother one that personifies capitalism....owners and directors make decisions ...work together to get their ethics sorted....
ethical capitalism is not an oxymoron.

There are unethical unions as well. Co-operation between labour and capital requires fair play and adjustment to conditions on both sides with a gov as referee.

But as long as you are going to the play the us against capitalism card....you'll just get dissed as foolish.

You should check your facts before declaring mine workers in Australia getting a "pittance"

MANDURAH, Australia—One of the fastest-growing costs in the global mining industry are workers like James Dinnison: the 25-year-old high-school dropout from Western Australia makes $200,000 a year running drills in underground mines to extract gold and other minerals.

The heavily tattooed Mr. Dinnison, who started in the mines seven years ago earning $100,000, owns a sky-blue 2009 Chevy Ute, which cost $55,000 before a $16,000 engine enhancement, and a $44,000 custom motorcycle. The price tag on his chihuahua, Dexter, which yaps at his feet: $1,200.


James Dinnison, a 25-year-old high school dropout from Western Australia, makes $200,000 a year running drills in underground mines to extract gold and other minerals. Why is he paid so much? John Miller explains on Lunch Break.

Could you become a $200,000-a-year miner?
A precious commodity himself, Mr. Dinnison belongs to a class of nouveau riche rising in remote and mineral-rich parts of the world, such as Western Australia state, where mining companies are investing heavily to develop and expand iron-ore mines. Demand for those willing to work 12-hour days in sometimes dangerous conditions, while living for weeks in dusty small towns, is huge.

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"It's a historical shortage," says Sigurd Mareels, director of global mining for research firm McKinsey & Co. Not just in Australia, but around the world. In Canada, example, the Mining Industry Council foresees a shortfall of 60,000 to 90,000 workers by 2017. Peru must find 40,000 new miners by the end of the decade.

Behind this need for mine workers is a construction boom in China and other emerging economies that has ramped up the demand for iron ore, used to make steel, and other metals used in construction, such as copper, typically used for wiring buildings.

The manpower dearth comes with a hefty price tag. "Inflationary pressures are driving up costs and wages at mining hot spots like Western Australia, Chile, Africa," said Tom Albanese, CEO of Rio Tinto RIO +2.28% PLC the world's third-biggest miner by sales. "You're seeing double-digit wage growth in a lot of regions."

The shortage is particularly acute in Australia, the world's biggest source of iron ore and the world's second-biggest gold producer.

The Minerals Council of Australia estimates the country needs an additional 86,000 workers by 2020, to complement a current work force estimated at 216,000. "It's a tight labor market and difficult cost environment," said Ian Ashby, president of BHP BillitonLtd.'s BHP +2.48% iron-ore division. To attract workers, BHP and other companies are building recreation centers, sports fields and art galleries in hardscrabble company towns. BHP said rising manpower and capital costs reduced earnings by $1.2 billion during the first half of 2011, when the company posted profit of $11.2 billion.

Some workers in Australia commute from the Philippines and New Zealand. "It makes sense for me," says 47-year-old Ricky Ruffell. The New Zealander, who drives a grader at Port Hedland in northern Australia, flies home once a month on a $1,200 ticket, paying for the fare himself out of his $120,000 annual income.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 69312.html
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Re: Don't Boycott Bangladesh

#6  Postby Loren Michael » May 09, 2013 1:06 am

Jakov wrote:The desire to boycott is totally understandable. Working class people in the west see the suffering of Bangladeshi workers and want to do something to help.

But in the market it's one-dollar-one-vote. In a class struggle situation of rich-vs-poor seen today, boycotts are very ineffective because the rich have the majority of the votes. A billionaire can outvote many millions of poor people.

Also more often than not it moralises those who cannot afford to make these kinds of consumer choices (local bookshops, ethical eating, McDonalds versus local businesses etc) as bad, while failing to recognise, for example, stagnant wages in the west.

Boycotts do nothing to challenge the implied market-consumer relationship. By not considering capitalism as a system it fails to understand why factories are built cheaply. It is not simply because they are evil. It is because the system requires as much in order for companies to operate especially as markets become saturated and profits begin to fall.


Who is evil, here, and what do they do because they are evil (but not simply because they are evil)?
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Re: Don't Boycott Bangladesh

#7  Postby Jakov » May 09, 2013 1:13 pm

Macdoc wrote:Nother one that personifies capitalism....owners and directors make decisions ...work together to get their ethics sorted....
ethical capitalism is not an oxymoron.

There are unethical unions as well. Co-operation between labour and capital requires fair play and adjustment to conditions on both sides with a gov as referee.

But as long as you are going to the play the us against capitalism card....you'll just get dissed as foolish.

You should check your facts before declaring mine workers in Australia getting a "pittance"


Why shouldn't I personify classes within capitalism if that helps us understand the situation more clearly.
Let's look at a simple example. Market forces make all manufacturers in a sector do environmentally devastating things. Each factory owner weighs up economic pressures with his environmental conscience, and they all choose pollution.
It helps us understand what's going on if you disregard the individual owners and realise that it's in the interests of capital as a class to pollute the environment. Each individual factory owner presumably feels guilty about his pollution but the class a whole still does it.

Ethical capitalism may not be an oxymoron but it's never existed in history. The highest point you'll probably point to is the post-WWII social democracies. Unfortunatly those were also based on the exploitation of the work of women as well as the global south. All throughout that time there were also influences from communist countries which meant capitalism couldn't be too ruthless lest it provoke. When communist regimes inevitably collapse, capitalism is left with no competing system so can exploit to the max.

Most unions are not revolutionary. It's far easier for a boss to talk with one union bureaucrats than to argue with hundreds of rowdy, unhappy workers. Unions must sell themselves twice to two groups with opposing interests (bosses and workers). They exist as a way of managing the sale of labour power, the product they sell is industrial peace. Their unethical behavour, the backroom deals, the cuts in pay and conditions presented as a "victory", the strikes called off pending endless negotiations, the members told to break the strikes of other unions, the union activists disciplined by their own union. This unethical behavour comes from the fact that unions too are subject to the laws of the market.
Further reading: http://libcom.org/library/unions-introduction

You may diss me as foolish. With respect I don't care, I don't even know you. This is nothing but an ad hominem.

Yes Australian miners have higher wages than many other working class people, but their bargening power still wasn't strong enough to enact health and safety laws within the rules of the market (i.e. "Your job is unsafe? Just find another job that is safe!") They had to use anti-capitalist actions like sector-wide strikes to get proper health and safety laws.
Last edited by Jakov on May 09, 2013 1:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Don't Boycott Bangladesh

#8  Postby Jakov » May 09, 2013 1:16 pm

Loren Michael wrote:
Jakov wrote:The desire to boycott is totally understandable. Working class people in the west see the suffering of Bangladeshi workers and want to do something to help.

But in the market it's one-dollar-one-vote. In a class struggle situation of rich-vs-poor seen today, boycotts are very ineffective because the rich have the majority of the votes. A billionaire can outvote many millions of poor people.

Also more often than not it moralises those who cannot afford to make these kinds of consumer choices (local bookshops, ethical eating, McDonalds versus local businesses etc) as bad, while failing to recognise, for example, stagnant wages in the west.

Boycotts do nothing to challenge the implied market-consumer relationship. By not considering capitalism as a system it fails to understand why factories are built cheaply. It is not simply because they are evil. It is because the system requires as much in order for companies to operate especially as markets become saturated and profits begin to fall.


Who is evil, here, and what do they do because they are evil (but not simply because they are evil)?


It was meant to be a rebuttal to the liberal boycotter's argument that "Those Bangladeshi factory owners are evil, all we have to do is trade with another factory owner who isnt evil."
You misinterpret me, I personally don't think any large group of people are evil but just a product of the social forces around them. It's way more complex than saying this or that group is evil and that's that.
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Re: Don't Boycott Bangladesh

#9  Postby Loren Michael » May 09, 2013 5:11 pm

Fair enough; my mistake, and my apologies.
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